The Dead Inside: A True Story by Cyndy Etler

Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book โ€“ all opinions are my own.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”


I have been struggling with this review for days and have come up with no other way to say it: this book did nothing for me. I could not connect with her voice at all, despite how desperately I wanted to. (I was really looking forward to reading this book.) I’m aware that I’m in the minority here, but I can’t change the fact that I couldn’t connect.

This book is definitely resonating with other readers, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. It’s important to know that Etler doesn’t gloss over any of the hard parts, and I give her kudos for being able to relive her past in order to shed light on what this group was doing behind closed doors.

To anyone considering this book, I would say give it a try. Etler has an important story to tell and it’s going to strike a chord with a lot of readers.

Purchase links: Barnes & NobleIndieBoundAmazon

Author stats: WebsiteFacebookInstagramTwitter

Book stats: Hardcover, 304 pages, Sourcebooks Fire, April 4, 2017


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